Today, Julia Gfrörer is here with a new Symbol Reader column, tracking the winged creatures to be found in new comics by Ben Duncan, Lala Albert, and Ward Zwart. Here’s a sample of her analysis:
Bees labor tirelessly until their deaths, slaving daily to make honey, volunteering their lives when they sting to defend the hive, and for this reason they often appear in a story to remind us of the virtue of hard work and self-sacrifice, the honey its luminous, longed-for reward. But in this parable, which originates with ancient Indian Buddhism, the bees represent desires, and the honey their fulfillment: though briefly pleasurable, it brings no true relief. And in an economy where hard work has been largely uncoupled from lasting reward, the symbolic role of honey must again be renegotiated.
The protagonist of Lala Albert’s “Brain Buzz” experiences the swarm of bees that break out over her body and her mind as compulsiveness: as in the Buddhist parable, their slightly ominous presence suggests the anxious demands of desire.
And in our final supplement to the recent publication of the Comics Journal Library collection of Zap interviews, we have a previously unpublished 1972 interview with Victor Moscoso, conducted by Patrick Rosenkranz. Here’s an excerpt:
Seeing Zap really turned you around.
MOSCOSO: I was ready for it. We were already getting ready to do a comic-book trip. Then Crumb came out and laid out the form, just like that. The form was perfect. Crumb had to change it — there have been a lot of variations, but the form is like the form. A comic book that size, on newsprint, black and white. We didn’t even think black and white, when Rick and I were working on it. We automatically thought color. That’s where our heads were at. Except what that does is make it too expensive.
ROSENKRANZ: That’s what the overground comics have been doing all this time.
MOSCOSO: Which is all right. It’s getting to the point where we’ll be getting into color now too. Young Lust is coming out as an all-color comic.
ROSENKRANZ: Up From the Deep is planning a second one with color insert.
MOSCOSO: I’m planning to do some more color. I don’t know when I’ll get to it, but I will.
ROSENKRANZ: You hadn’t seen any other comics at the time, like God Nose or Feds ‘N’ Heads?
MOSCOSO: Sure, I’d seen God Nose almost two years before. Jaxon gave me a copy of it when he was working for the Family Dog. He was then in charge of the posters. But it didn’t click. I said that’s nice. It’s nice and old-fashioned that somebody’s doing a comic book like this.
ROSENKRANZ: What was so different about Zap?
MOSCOSO: The time, the form, the price, and Crumb’s attitude towards it, how he saw it. The way he was relating to it was something I had totally forgotten about since I was a kid. It was a means of expression. I hadn’t been thinking about it that way. When I saw the way he was relating to it — you could do your trip in this form, and how far out he was getting in that form, which I had considered a secondary form or kid stuff. It’s OK for Marvel Comics. It’s not where my head was at at that time. By him doing it that way, I saw a potential in it that I wasn’t seeing up until that point. It opened the door. It said, “See this.” I said, “Yeah.”
—Reviews & Commentary. Chris Ware writes about the expansive influence of Richard McGuire’s “Here”.
Publishers Weekly has released their annual critics poll, with the Tamakis’ This One Summer topping the list.
—Interviews. Pádraig Ó Méalóid talks to Bryan Talbot about his Grandville series. Comics Tavern has ten questions with Joshua Cotter, and I think we missed that right before Thanksgiving they had ten questions for Leslie Stein, too.
—Misc. The Guardian has published a selection of birthday messages written to whistle-blower Chelsea Manning in prison, including letters from comics figures including Joe Sacco, Alan Moore, Terry Gilliam, and Molly Crabapple.
And this interview with Adrian and Alessandro Nivolo has a nice Saul Steinberg anecdote.